10 things you can do to close the immigration gap

By the Herald editorial staff

In his column Wednesday, Ruben Navarrette Jr. lectured Hispanic immigrants on their duty to assimilate into this country.

Even better, he included a list of concrete suggestions to speed the process -- ideas such as coming here legally, learning English and teaching your children to value education.

In these times of political correctness, Navarrette's frank and honest criticism likely would be rejected by many if it hadn't come from a Hispanic commentator.

In that same spirit of candor, we have a few suggestions of our own for readers born in America.

The duty shouldn't fall entirely on recent immigrants. Those of us whose ancestors migrated decades or centuries ago now are duty-bound to ease the immigration gap where we can.

Here's a list, by no means exhaustive, of 10 things you can do to help immigrants, especially Hispanics, assimilate into their new country and our community.

You can:

1) Introduce yourself to your Hispanic neighbors. Take them a plate of cookies or have them over for dinner.

2) Volunteer to read with a child in a bilingual classroom who may be struggling with English.

3) Attend and encourage the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program's annual scholarship event and join the parents and grandparents in celebrating the accomplishments of these young people.

4) Mentor a Hispanic youth. Hire the kid. Talk and listen to him. Ask him about homework and school and encourage him toward higher education.

5) Invite a Hispanic friend to go with you to a voters forum, city council workshop or school board meeting. You'll be helping an immigrant learn about American government in action and may get a lesson in grass-roots democracy yourself.

6) Ask Hispanic parents to serve with you on the PTA, booster club or other committees you might be on.

7) Coach a youth soccer or baseball team. Integrate the players and get to know their parents.

8) Attend a Hispanic gathering, perhaps a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting. Rub shoulders with members of the community you may not usually contact.

9) Many places offer adult English classes. Volunteer to help teach or serve as a conversationalist for those trying to learn the language.

10) We are borrowing this last suggestion directly from Navarrette:

"Don't feel entitled to anything. Americans have this affliction -- more concerned with rights than with responsibilities, and with what they think they deserve as opposed to what they've earned -- and immigrants would do well to steer clear of it."

That ought to speak pretty strongly to all of us.

Unless you're an Indian, you are -- or were a couple of generations back -- an immigrant. We can and should extend the hand of welcome to our new citizens.